Best Rockies Song 2008 | Kaz Matsui"It's Tricky" | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Like many other teams, the Colorado Rockies pump a song over the loudspeakers every time a player comes to bat. The tunes are chosen by the ballers themselves, and second baseman Kaz Matsui clearly took home the Most Valuable Song trophy in 2007 for his selection of Run-D.M.C.'s "It's Tricky." Not only is the 1986 old-school jam a great-ridiculous classic, but the cultural juxtaposition of the Kings from Queens and the Japan-born Kaz made it even better. Sadly, Kaz was traded in the off-season, so a new champ will have to be crowned this year.
The Rockies' startling, exhilarating run to the World Series may have caught the baseball world by surprise, but souvenir-makers took it in stride, cranking out merchandise and memorabilia by the truckload. T-shirts, hoodies, baseballs, flags, pennants, mugs, pins and programs were just the beginning. But the best souvenir was the limited-edition clay Rockies muerto made by Chicano artist Jerry Vigil and featured on the November 1 cover of Westword. The folk figure's quirky individuality showed just how deeply the team has ingrained itself into Denver's cultural fabric.
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls co-founder Catherine Mabe, aka Jayne Manslaughter, loves roller derby so much that she had to write a book about it. And you can sense her enthusiasm throughout Roller Derby as she traces the sport from its earliest days to its modern revival. Although Mabe has moved on — she now lives in Arizona — you can still pick the book up at local bouts. Girls rule!
No raggedy pots of geraniums here. The showcase "green roof" on the EPA's new regional headquarters is a tri-level, 20,000-square-foot spread of grasses, perennials and groundcover designed to absorb carbon dioxide, reduce stormwater runoff and battle the heat-island effect of asphalt-encased skyscrapers. We never thought a green toup on a high-rise could look this pretty, but this one's alive.
Rock-paper-scissors is the ultimate way to end any dispute. If the formula were applied to our issues in Iraq, world peace could be achieved by 2009. Or maybe not. Still, it's fun to play, and this year's Roshambo competition at Wahoo's Uptown had the additional benefit of raising money for the Snowboard Outreach Society, a nonprofit that provides support to at-risk youths. Hint: Don't always shoot rock.
Skateboarders weren't expecting much from Commerce City when it announced plans to build a new concrete skatepark. After all, bigger metro-area cities have consistently blown good intentions (and public funds) by relying on non-skateboarding landscape architects who produced designs that functioned better in CAD than in real life. Fortunately, Commerce City went with top-notch skater design/build outfit California Skateparks, and when the free outdoor facility opened last fall, it became one of the best on the Front Range. Most notable in the park's 20,000 square feet is a clover-shaped bowl attached to a massive, twenty-foot-tall capsule. Street skaters are offered a plaza-style section with stairs, rails and ledges, all capped with grind-easy angle iron. Though the circular layout seems more about overhead aesthetics than a coherent flow pattern, it's totally sick compared to the one at Green Valley Ranch.
Season ski passes are only as good as you make them. You have to use them to get your money's worth, and the newest mountain pass is no exception. At first it might seem silly for someone in Denver to consider buying a season pass to Monarch Mountain — nearly 140 miles away — but this is no ordinary pass. Monarch has teamed up with nine other resorts in three states that are "unique and off the beaten path." Thus, a $399 season pass to Monarch comes with three days each at Crested Butte, Loveland, Durango, Sunlight, Powderhorn and New Mexico's Angel Fire and Pajarito, as well as half-price tickets at Alta, in Utah, and one day in the steep-and-deep extremes of Silverton Mountain. It's the perfect package for an epic road trip. And if those plans crumble, the pass won't be a total loss: Monarch's only twenty miles farther than Vail, and you don't have to deal with bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-70.
Pitcher Jason Jennings is no longer a member of the Colorado Rockies — he's currently hurling for the Texas Rangers — but he left behind a tremendous gift for baseball fans facing physical challenges. The Jason Jennings Sports Made Possible Field features rubberized surfaces that allow disabled children and adults, including those who get around using wheelchairs, to play baseball with the assistance of helpers from the non-profit Sports Made Possible. No matter what the final score, participants and volunteers alike leave feeling like winners.
Drew Goodman has been a reliable play-by-play man for ages, but he really proved his value during the Colorado Rockies' 2007 season. When the team started off poorly, he kept things in perspective without ever turning into a paid apologist — a skill he honed as a witness to years of Rockies ineptitude. And he maintained this same admirable balance once the tide began turning, properly reflecting the enthusiasm this unexpected twist engendered even as he resisted the temptation to root like an out-of-control fan. Goodman's professionalism is a real asset, whether he's calling contests by a cellar-dweller or a World Series combatant.
In baseball, they call it "strength up the middle." The term refers to a team whose second baseman/shortstop combo gains a reputation for vacuuming up everything that comes its way. And last season, the Colorado Rockies were strong up the middle and everywhere else, making .98925 percent of their plays given 6,326 total chances. In fact, the Rockies made history as the best fielding team ever, beating out the 2006 Boston Red Sox, who racked up a .9891 fielding percentage. A bittersweet prize considering they lost to the Sox in the World Series, but one worth remembering.

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